Easy to Swallow
Four-piece Austin, Texas retro-doom metal quartet, The Sword, has a sound that is so nostalgic that it is nearly pastiche. Fortunately, the music on their latest, Apocryphon, is fun and interesting enough that you won’t care if it was released in 1972 or in 2012. Abandoning the “concept album” method from their previous few releases, Apocryphon winds up sounding like a “greatest hits,” comprising the band’s best sounds from over its short career.
Apocryphon also welcomes new drummer, Santiago Vela III, joining singer/guitarist/founder J. D. Cronise and crew as they continue to draw from influences like Sabbath and Thin Lizzy. The straight but pounding drums move the songs right along with the simple chords and complex riffs, all supporting Cronise’s derivative but easy-on-the-ears voice. Opener “Veil of Isis” is a great introduction to the band and to the album, combining the show-all-cards musical approach with fantasy-laden lyrics. And while many of the songs follow the same formula, they each have a distinct personality or a small hook that sets them apart. “The Hidden Masters” begins with a bluesly bass riff that is eventually taken over by the rest of the band. Arcade-game synthesizers start off the title track before leading in to crunchy verse.
The Sword has the chops to make it along side contemporaries like Witchcraft or Pentagram, but they also have a Darkness-like charm about them that landed them a slot opening for …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. Apocryphon is worth a listen, if just to be made aware that this kind of music is still being made, and being made with respect to the past as well as attention to quality.